I am someone who lives alone. When I walk through the door at the end of a day, there is no one there to greet me or cook me dinner or draw me a bath. Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a pet. Unfortunately, my nickel-and-diming property management believes that an animal equates to an additional monthly pet rent.
Not a deposit, a pet rent.
Needless to say, I find this completely ridiculous and have shelved any attempts to cure my solitary home life. In the meantime, I rely on weekly visits to the family dog for licks on the nose and cuddles on the couch.
Eight years ago, my dad brought home a puppy. A teeny little blonde who radiated heat and smelled of the most intoxicating fragrance (we’ve since likened it to a combination of sweet corn and grape soda) came into our home and was to be returned to the woman who rescued him the next morning. My family had gone through two years of hell with the world’s worst puppy, Killer, and were not about to sign up for another crazy pup.
Needless to say, we decided to keep him.
It wasn’t long before we all fell in love with this little mutt and welcomed him into our family with enthusiastically open arms and a very strange name: Jake the Worm. We loved the name Jake, but I felt the dog needed a title and when his first trip to the vet resulted in a diagnosis of worms, well, you see where I went from there. My dad took it a step further when I saw our new pet’s prescription bottle read “Jake the Worm Piranha.” The puppy teeth were to blame for the last name addition.
We were delighted to know that Jake was not the horrible puppy that Killer was. He potty-trained easily, did not destroy anything, and was a snuggler from early on.
As an adult, Jake is an asshole. There’s just no other way to put it.
He terrorizes the neighborhood from his perch on the balcony, growling and barking whenever someone walks by. The neighbors have taken to calling him both Cujo and The Growler. While Jake loves Killer and any of the few people who knew him in the first six months of his life, he does not play well with others.
My sister, whose lifelong fear of dogs has not lessened as she’s gotten older, learned that Jake’s bite was indeed worse than his bark and had a lump on her leg for over a year after she met his acquaintance. When my aunt came out from Louisiana to visit with my mom, it took three days of tiptoeing around each other for him to warm up to her.
And he just gets stranger as he gets older.
On windy days when he’s home alone, he has taken to digging on carpets and rugs until his little paws bleed and it looks like a murder scene. He will leap off the couch from a dead sleep if he lets out an audible fart. In the morning, you will find Jake growling at a bed, waiting for someone to pick him up even though he is perfectly capable of jumping on the bed himself. Even after harassing you into giving him a treat, he will turn his nose up at the snack if it was not the particular one he wanted. But don’t you dare take that original treat away; he’ll come back for it later. If you leave your seat on the couch even for the shortest of times, he will have stolen your spot by the time you return.
Despite all of his neuroses (and the list is endless), Jake is still a part of the family and I love the little psycho. My mother and I always comment that we are so happy we kept him.
If you’re sick and hugging the porcelain throne, he runs around frantically, unsure of what to do to help. When you wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll find that Jake has become the little spoon to your big spoon, all snugged in as if that was the only place he was ever supposed to be. He’s funny and he makes us laugh when he gives us a look that so clearly says, “My humans are so stupid!” If you’re in the garage for only a few minutes, his entire body wags when you return with the sheer delight that you came back. No human will ever greet you like that.
That would just be weird.